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When I started to think about writing this piece, I was a bit amazed at how many embarrassing moments I had from which to pick in my life. Perhaps that is the downside to being 50 years old—a lot of time to make a lot of mistakes. But thank God, I finally started to learn the lessons from those mistakes and embarrassing moments. Like the time I auditioned for a touring company of The Wiz. I was 19. In high school I was a voice major and for college I wanted to major in music and minor in dance. I did not get to do that. My father felt pre-law was a better choice for me. I could not get that musical theater bug out of my system. I continued with my voice lessons and began to take dance class and fell in love with that world. I was a good singer, but I didn't have the confidence or experience to try out for a lead role. I figured I should walk before I tried to run, so I went for a role in the chorus. This required strong singing and light dancing. I had assurance from my dance teacher that I would be able to handle the dancing, so I went.
When I arrived at the audition, I was told that all chorus positions had been filled and that the audition would be for dancers. Lord! Now, I can dance at a party, I did study dance, but I am a singer, not a dancer. But, I did not want to quit; so, I stayed—and I bombed. Not only was the choreography complicated, I had two tries to learn it all. It was that classic comedy moment we have all seen when everyone turns to the right and one fool turns to the left and crashes into someone...yes, that was me. And to add insult to injury, I was wearing waist beads. They were pretty (my boyfriend at the time loved them on me), but I had them on the outside of my leotard because they looked lumpy under my leotard, and I had convinced myself I needed them for luck and they were different. I convinced myself they would help me stand out. #Understatement!
When I finally began to get a grasp on the choreography and stopped slamming into people and was starting to feel it, the waist beads broke and went rolling and flying all over the floor. At that moment, I wished the floor could have swallowed me up. I just wanted to disappear. Things just got worse. The beads kept rolling, people stepped on them while they tried to dance, and a few people fell. They had to stop the audition and clear the room so that the floor could be swept. It could not have gone worse. I just kept saying, "Sorry," as I tried to pick the beads up off of the floor. It could not be over soon enough for me. I never went to another audition in my life, and I never wore waist beads again.
It took me a long time to learn the lesson of that awful moment. For a while I blamed the people at the audition for being catty and bitchy and "making me nervous," when the fact was, I wasn't ready. I should not have auditioned as a dancer, and I should not have worn waist beads. Plus, I put myself in a situation that I was neither, prepared, skilled, or properly dressed for. I could not blame anyone but myself. At the time I could not put it all together. Staying at that audition, even though I wasn't prepared, was me fighting back my dad and mom for not letting me pursue my musical career. There were so many other emotions going on that I could not identify at the time. That lesson cost me a lot in the short term, but in the long term, I learned to NEVER sacrifice my passion and to temper my desire to fill it with knowledge and preparation.
When I say it took me years to learn this—I mean more than a decade. Do not make the same mistake that I did. Stop pointing fingers at others and look at yourself first and acknowledge what you have done to contribute to the situation in which you find yourself and what could you have done to change the outcome and why didn't you do that. Was the choreographer being a bit of a bitch? Yes. Did she roll her eyes at me more than once? Yes. But, her job was to make sure that those chosen would be fully up to the task at hand. There would not be time for hand holding, extra lessons and ego boosting. Those attributes needed to walk into the door with you. I did not have them, plain and simple.
There is an old saying we have all heard a million times, "That which does not kill you makes you stronger." So true! As horrible as I felt in that moment, the sun did come up the next day. I continued to breathe and walk and dance and sing. I even found myself on a stage again, singing. After having survived that audition, nothing could be as bad as that. I may even buy some waist beads again. :)